To fans of Twilight, and other novels in the growing paranormal romantic suspense genre, this premise will sound familiar. A moody teenage girl moves to a new, remote town to live with a relative. She soon has a crew of fascinating—and fascinated—admirers, including a handsome classmate who can run superhumanly fast, and a dark mysterious guy who follows her and leaves a trail of glittery gold dust behind him. So goes the set-up of Need by Carrie Jones, which Bloomsbury published in late December, and which has already been back to press several times, for a total of 55,000 copies in print.
According to Bloomsbury publicity director Deb Shapiro, “To date, online coverage has been the key to getting the word out to fans—that and a striking jacket.” Shapiro notes that grabbing the attention of teens immersed in the online world began with a targeted buzz campaign aimed at fans of Twilight and Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. As more readers are developing a need for Need, Shapiro says, the publisher is stepping up marketing and publicity plans to keep pace. Facets of an updated push that is already underway include the creation of a book-specific Web site, fan presence on social networking sites, more book giveaways on various teen sites and a viral campaign promoting the book trailer and widget.
Other early efforts included themed bookseller and media mailings replete with special packaging and pixie dust (as one of the main characters is a dangerous pixie), blog tours for Jones, including one with Marr and Cassandra Clare (City of Bones) and a promotion on bookdivas.com.
Though Need may fit neatly into “a market primed for urban fantasy,” says Bloomsbury editorial director Michelle Nagler, the book has its own distinctive merits. “What sets it apart and has made it so successful, I think, is the voice,” Nagler adds. “When I first read Need on submission, I was struck by the electricity of Carrie Jones’s voice; it had that authentic teen feeling, but with just the right bit of quirkiness. Readers not only identify with the characters, they’re also entertained by the unique details.”
Elizabeth Bluemle, co-owner of Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vt., was already an established fan of Jones’s writing when Need made the scene. Like Nagler, she believes that readers can embrace some genre similarities in the book, but still find plenty of fresh material to enjoy as well. “With Need, you really can say to someone, ‘If you liked Twilight, you’ll like this.’” she says. “It has the same romance and ambiance, but it’s not trying to be Twilight. It’s very vividly written and some of the images really linger.”
As for other visuals, Bluemle has seen the book’s jacket make an impression, too. “It really draws people; it’s a pretty easy handsell,” she notes. Need got an extra lift at Flying Pig by landing in one of the coveted “sweet spot” display stacks near the register. After featuring the book there for a few weeks, Bluemle says it sold out. As one might expect, customers have largely been a mix of fantasy lovers and Twilight fans, including crossover readers. “It’s really fun that adults have bought it for themselves,” Bluemle comments.